Geography Program (SNR)


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Published in Pilgrimage in World Religions, S.M. Bhardwaj and G. Rinschede, eds.; Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1989, pp. 99-116.


Although pilgrimages have been studied by geographers for many decades, we still are uncertain about the universality of certain basic geographic characteristics of this religious activity. It is true that NOLAN (1983; 1984; forthcoming) has provided a wealth of data on Christian pilgrimages, especially in Western Europe, and several geographers have analyzed aspects of the hajj. But, there have been relatively few studies about groups in many other settings, such as the Muslems in the Philippines, the Christians in India, and the Hindus in Africa. We need to expand our collective knowledge about pilgrimages by studying them in a wide variety of cultural settings if we are to develop geographic generalizations about this distinctive form of religious behavior. The goal of this paper is to provide more information about pilgrimages by examining three basic geographic questions as they pertain to Buddhist pilgrimages in Sri Lanka. Because answers to those questions are affected by inhering cultural conditions, this discussion commences with background information about the religious setting of Sri Lankan pilgrimages.

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